Manchester United, AS Monaco, Everton match up nicely on the Patrice Evra, Leighton Baines carousel

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The idea of John Terry moving from Chelsea after José Mourinho’s made his return caught many people by surprise, but there it is (as discussed this morning), in an honest-to-goodness paper, being discussed as if it’s not a figment of some Terry-detractor’s imagination. Since we’re talking about AS Monaco, a team that employees one of Terry’s former managers (Claudio Ranieri), there’s more to it than most gossip, even if it’s still unlikely the Chelsea captain would leave Stamford Bridge without a little more showing him the door.

There is, however, one Monaco rumor for an English Premier League defender that makes a little more sense, one that draws on the increasing age of Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, David Moyes’s move to Old Trafford, and the demand for Everton’s Leighton Baines to paint a plausible picture. In that scenario (one that’s even alluded to in a transfer roundup on Everton’s own site), Monaco would use a sliver of their mammoth resources to lure Evra back to his former club, a deal would be paved after the Red Devils convince the Toffees to cash in their left back. At 28 years old and having ascended to be the best left back in the Premier League, Baines will never be more valuable, and while reluctance to move abroad has kept other transfers off the table (like a previously rumored move to Bayern Munich), a move to Manchester presents no such concerns.

It’s a situation where Baines would have a difficult time saying no. If he wants to play out his days at Everton, there’s something amazing about that loyalty, but if he’s ever going to move up the ladder, a chance to join an English champions that just hired your long time coach, will give you a big raise, and can compete for every honor on their schedule will force him to ask: If not now, when?

Evra, a 32-year-old French international who has spent the last seven seasons at Old Trafford, inspires drastically divergent opinions about his value, but still a consistent selection for club and country, most evidence suggestions the defender is still highly-regarded. Coming off a strong season in which he scored four times, Evra may be able to draw a significant raise from the club he left to join United. At the same time, Manchester United could actually get a reasonable fee for a player they’d otherwise have no reason to sell.

They do, however, have reason to upgrade. Defensively, there may not be much in it, Evra’s lapses offset by an experience and physicality Baines can’t match. But going forward, there’s no question who’s the better player. Evra snared his share of goals this season, but Baines’s left foot alone – on set pieces, crossing from open play, as a treat jumping into the attack – more than justifies the upgrade. If he’s not one of the best left back in the world, he’s at least one of the most dangerous.

Even more than a potential Marouane Fellaini move to Manchester, this carousel seems to make sense for all involved. Beyond unknown player preferences and differences in evaluations, the main sticking point may be Everton’s reluctance to let Moyes dip too deep into his former team’s squad. Yet with Roberto Martínez now confirmed at Goodison Park, they may also be a willing to let players who can fund a new squad move on, giving the new boss the ability to build a team that matches his vision.

It’s difficult enough to get one transfer in place, so when you see two linked together, you have extra reason to doubt. But this scenario makes a lot of sense, and with clubs like Monaco and United involved, money’s unlikely to be the stumbling block. The bigger question is whether all three clubs will agree to put the wheels in motion.